Tyrese Maxey

Sixers Notes: Embiid, Harden, Tucker, Oubre, Maxey, Green

The impact that James Harden‘s standoff with the Sixers might have on star teammate Joel Embiid has been an ongoing subplot this offseason as the Harden saga drags on. Speaking to reporters on Monday for the first time this fall, Embiid was asked if he feels the need to put public pressure on his team’s front office to make a move, the way Giannis Antetokounmpo did this summer in Milwaukee.

“It’s tricky. I think it could go both ways,” Embiid said (Twitter video link via Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer). “… (The Sixers’ front office decision-makers) get paid to make those decisions, so that’s why I leave it up to them. If they want my opinion, maybe I give it, but I trust (them). Any team that I’m on, I’m still going to believe that I have a chance to win, no matter who’s on the roster. And we’ve got a lot of great players. I’m happy with what we have.”

Embiid went on to say that he thinks Tyrese Maxey could be primed to make a leap this season and that the Harden situation will “hopefully” be resolved soon.

“If he’s here, we love him and we want him to be with us, and I think we have a better team with him on the floor,” Embiid said. “And I think he knows it too, so hopefully that gets resolved. If that doesn’t (get resolved), it doesn’t change the goal, it doesn’t change anything. The goal is still to go out there and try to win a championship.”

Here’s more from the Sixers’ media day:

  • Veteran Sixers forward P.J. Tucker said today that his relationship with Harden goes “way beyond basketball” and that he supports him whether he ends up remaining in Philadelphia or getting traded elsewhere (Twitter video link via Pompey). Asked if he thinks Harden will end up reporting to the 76ers, Tucker said he has “no idea,” adding, “I know he feels strongly about how he feels.”
  • A feeling that he was wanted was a primary reason why Kelly Oubre signed with the Sixers, he told reporters today (Twitter link via Kyle Neubeck of PHLY Sports). According to Oubre, president of basketball operations Daryl Morey and head coach Nick Nurse both pushed hard for him to sign with the club.
  • Although he’s very much a part of their long-term plans, the Sixers aren’t looking to extend Maxey this offseason because they want to maximize their 2024 cap flexibility. Maxey said today that he’s not upset or discouraged by that decision, according to Gina Mizell of The Philadelphia Inquirer (Twitter link). “I’m focusing on the season,” he said. “… I love Philly. I know it’s a business. I know this is how it goes.”
  • Danny Green was limited to 11 appearances last season while recovering from ACL and LCL tears and he turned 36 in June, but the veteran swingman sounds optimistic about his chances of having a bounce-back season. “This is the best my body’s felt in a long time,” he said today, per Mizell (Twitter link).

Atlantic Notes: Quickley, Sixers, Maxey, Tatum

The Knicks have touched base with Immanuel Quickley‘s representatives, but there have been no serious discussions on a rookie scale extension, according to Sean Deveney of Heavy.com.

While talks are expected to heat up in October, there’s some pessimism regarding an extension agreement, Deveney says. Without an extension, Quickley will be a restricted free agent next summer.

Quickley averaged 14.9 points, 4.2 rebounds and 3.4 assists and finished second for the Sixth Man of the Year award last season, but as Deveney points out, the Knicks have an abundance of guards.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Nick Nurse was one of the pioneers of load management during the Raptors’ championship season, when he limited Kawhi Leonard‘s playing time to keep him fresh for the postseason. With the NBA imposing new penalties for load management, Nurse will have to carefully navigate how much he tries to rest MVP Joel Embiid, as well as James Harden if Harden remains on the Sixers, Gina Mizell of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes. Embiid has publicly acknowledged that proving his durability has been a personal goal, Mizell notes.
  • Tyrese Maxey has already dramatically improved his shooting during his short NBA career. If he can do the same as a play-maker, then the Sixers can search for a third wheel to join him and Embiid, rather than finding another guard to run the show. That could make next year’s free agent class much more enticing, since the Sixers are positioned to have more cap space than any other team, Derek Bodner of Allphly.com writes.
  • Could Jayson Tatum eventually carve out a space on the Celtics’ Mount Rushmore, as he openly expressed a desire to accomplish? Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston explores that topic, opining that Bill Russell, Larry Bird and John Havlicek would occupy the first three spots. Forsberg writes that delivering titles, and staying in Boston long-term, would boost Tatum’s candidacy.

Sixers Notes: Harden, Harris, Petrusev, Green, More

Despite another second-round playoff exit, which has been followed by another drama-filled offseason, Sixers owner Josh Harris believes Philadelphia is in an enviable position, according to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.

The situation with James Harden is unfortunate,” Harris told ESPN. “I want this to work out for all sides, including James. But we have to keep our eye on the big picture, which is that we’re still a contending team and most teams in the NBA would change places with us in five minutes.”

Here’s more on the 76ers:

  • Harden took to Instagram in response to Shelburne’s report that he was “pouting” earlier this year over a perceived All-Star snub. The former league MVP’s message was simple: “Lies,” he wrote.
  • Sixers big man Filip Petrusev had an impressive performance for Serbia in the team’s World Cup quarterfinal victory over Lithuania, notching 17 points (on 7-of-8 shooting) and six rebounds in just 17 minutes of action. However, the 2021 second-round pick says his right ankle still isn’t 100%, per Cesare Milanti of Eurohoops. “I had the injury in the first game. So, I am not where I am supposed to be physically,” said Petrusev, who missed two games in the first round of group play. “I was just glad I could help (Nikola) Milutinov. He had so much work on defense guarding (Jonas) Valanciunas. He did a great job. That was the opportunity for me to step in, especially in the offense, and contribute.”
  • The uncertainty surrounding Harden’s situation has created question marks up and down the roster, Gina Mizell of The Philadelphia Inquirer writes (subscriber link). How new head coach Nick Nurse will construct the offense, Tyrese Maxey‘s role, and how Joel Embiid might adjust without Harden are among the most pressing questions posed by Mizell.
  • In an opinion piece for The Philadelphia Inquirer, David Murphy shares some thoughts on the reported addition of Danny Green, and how the lead guard spot might be handled sans Harden.

Latest On James Harden

Entering the 2023 offseason, Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey viewed re-signing James Harden as the team’s top priority, Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com writes in an in-depth look at the Harden saga. In fact, sources tell Shelburne that the “unofficial” reason the team moved on from head coach Doc Rivers was an awareness that Harden didn’t want to play for him again.

If Harden had declined his $35.6MM player option and become a free agent, he would’ve been eligible for contract worth up to $213MM over four years. According to Shelburne, the veteran was hoping for – and expecting – an offer in that range. However, since the Rockets‘ interest in Harden waned following their hiring of Ime Udoka, the former MVP didn’t have the leverage to extract that sort of offer from Philadelphia.

Unsure what sort of offer might be awaiting him when free agency opened, Harden attempted to touch base with Morey to determine the club’s position, but the 76ers – who were forced to forfeit two future second-round picks due to free agency gun jumping a year ago – weren’t willing to negotiate early.

“James felt like Daryl was ghosting him,” a source close to Harden told ESPN. “He felt betrayed.”

Harden and his representatives ultimately decided to take the guaranteed money by picking up his player option rather than being forced into a position where they’d have to accept whatever offer the Sixers made in free agency. The club was “stunned” by the decision, per Shelburne, who said the front office subsequently attempted to convey that it had only been “distant” with Harden leading up to free agency because of last year’s penalties. However, that did little to mend the relationship.

“James takes things very personally,” a second source close to Harden said to Shelburne. “When he feels like he’s been wronged, he can be very stubborn.”

Here are a few more highlights from Shelburne’s story, which is worth checking out in full:

  • Morey assured Harden’s camp that he would make a good faith effort to trade the 34-year-old and had initial talks with the Clippers and Knicks, league sources tell ESPN. However, when it became clear that no potential trade partners were willing to give up the sort of assets Philadelphia was seeking, the team informed Harden that it planned to hang onto him, a decision he didn’t take well.
  • Harden and Rivers had multiple “flare-ups” throughout the 2022/23 season, as Shelburne details. One such incident occurred in late February, following a pair of home losses to the Celtics and Heat. The Sixers were scheduled to play in Miami two days after falling at home to the Heat, and Harden opted to travel separately from the team to take advantage of the nightlife, which didn’t sit well with Rivers and some of his teammates. Rivers brought up the incident a few days later during a team meeting, specifically mentioning some of the players who were unhappy, which made for an “uncomfortable” situation, Shelburne explains.
  • Harden, whose numbers dipped a little as he accepted a secondary role in Philadelphia, was upset that he wasn’t initially named an All-Star in 2023, says Shelburne. While commissioner Adam Silver was still prepared to name Harden as an injury replacement for Kevin Durant, he wanted assurances that the star guard would show up and play. “Days went by” without an answer from Harden, who was “pouting,” according to Shelburne. Pascal Siakam was eventually chosen as Durant’s replacement instead.
  • Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey have each expressed to the Sixers that they’re OK waiting out the Harden saga, at least for the time being, sources tell ESPN. Both players are still on good terms with their teammate — Embiid invited Harden to his wedding in July, according to Shelburne.

Atlantic Notes: Maxey, Petrusev, Sixers, Knicks, Raptors

The James Harden trade request and public comments regarding the Sixers this offseason are certain to have a ripple effect on Philadelphia’s roster throughout the season, with or without a trade materializing. While much of the public spotlight has been on how reigning MVP Joel Embiid will respond, rising star guard Tyrese Maxey is one of the players most impacted by Harden’s request.

A potential roster without Harden, the 2022/23 leader in assists per game (10.7), would see Maxey with an increased responsibility in making plays for the Sixers.

Appearing on his own “Maxey on the Mic” podcast (Spotify link), the fourth-year guard said that he would be prepared to play on or off the ball and that he’s ready for any potential change to his role.

I’ve been able to be kind of adaptable in whatever situation I’ve been thrown into,” Maxey said. “It’s just funny, every single year it’s been something new. … If anybody has taught me that, it’s [Harden]. That’s the funny part about it. I know if he’s not playing he’s going to be rooting for me to be the best version of myself because that’s just the type of brother that he is. He’s a great person.

Maxey is close to Harden and understands what he’s going through but recognizes that with training camps on the horizon, it’s time to lock in sooner than later. The situation is comparable to the Ben Simmons situations just two years ago which, according to Maxey, is helping the team deal with the magnitude of Harden’s trade request.

It’s crazy to say this, but it’s not our first rodeo,” Maxey said. “That’s funny to say, but that’s life. James is his own individual and he’s able to do whatever he pleases. I’m preparing right now to play with him or without him. … and I love James. If James decided he’s going to come back and play for us, there’s nobody in this organization that would be upset about that.

Regardless of what happens with the Harden situation, Maxey said he and the rest of the Sixers refuse to look at this upcoming season as “a wash” in preparation for the 2024 offseason, when Philadelphia should have significant cap flexibility.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Sixers center Filip Petrusev, who is suiting up for Serbia for the 2023 FIBA World Cup, suffered an ankle injury during Serbia’s opener against China on Saturday, according to Eurohoops.net. Petrusev, who signed with Philadelphia last month after being stashed overseas for two years, suffered the injury to his right ankle and was subsequently ruled out for the remainder of the contest. It remains to be seen what the severity of the injury to Petrusev’s ankle is, but the Sixers did already lose center/forward Montrezl Harrell to an ACL injury that he recently underwent surgery to address.
  • This fall, Philadelphia City Council members will vote to decide the fate of the Sixers‘ proposal to build a new arena in Center City, according to a report from The Philadelphia Inquirer. Groups hoping to push City Council toward passing a new arena are making their voices heard, including the Business Industry Association, according to the report. Members of the group said that a new arena at 10th and Market Streets would generate jobs during construction and upon completion. The Sixers have been playing in Wells Fargo Center since 1996.
  • The Knicks recently filed a lawsuit against the Raptors, alleging that a former Knicks employee took “proprietary information” with him to his new job in Toronto. Eric Koreen, Fred Katz and Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic teamed up to answer several questions about the lawsuit, noting that people in the league office were surprised when the suit dropped, because the NBA usually handles situations like this. One team suing another distinguishes this from a typical tampering case.

Sixers Notes: Harden, Morey, Embiid, Point Guards

Responding to speculation that Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey may welcome the opportunity to tear down and rebuild the roster, Marc Stein expresses skepticism (Substack link), observing that Morey has never displayed an appetite for a rebuild during his time as a head basketball operations executive.

If the Sixers do end up moving James Harden for a package that’s heavier on draft assets than win-now players, Stein anticipates the club will look to flip those picks for another top-level player.

Philadelphia’s ultimate goal, according to Stein, is to supplement its Joel Embiid/Tyrese Maxey duo with another star. Ideally, a Harden trade would net that sort of star or open up a path to land one, but the 76ers are also preserving cap flexibility for 2024, which could create another opportunity to pursue an impact player.

Here’s more on Harden and the Sixers:

  • The worst-case scenario for the 76ers would be if the ongoing Harden situation becomes ugly enough to result in an Embiid trade request. Embiid isn’t at that point, according to Stein, but some sources who spoke to Sean Deveney of Heavy.com believe Philadelphia needs to proceed with caution in order to ensure Embiid remains happy.
  • Keith Smith of Spotrac takes an in-depth look at Harden’s stand-off with the Sixers, including how his contract situation factors into the equation and what sort of solution might resolve what has become an increasingly tense “staring contest.”
  • Gina Mizell of The Philadelphia Inquirer takes stock of where things stand between the Sixers and Harden, noting that it’s good news for the team that the NBA’s latest investigation apparently turned up no indications of a cap-circumventing handshake deal between the two sides when the veteran free agent guard reached free agency a year ago. Mizell also considers which Sixers players will take on more ball-handling responsibilities if Harden has played his last game for the team.

Atlantic Notes: Brunson, Long Island, Petrusev, Sixers

Jalen Brunson faced plenty of questions last summer entering his first season with the Knicks. He not only answered all of the questions, he “raised the bar” for the franchise and now he’ll face a different kind of pressure in 2023/24 as the “unquestioned leader” of the team, according to Zach Braziller of The New York Post (subscriber link).

As Braziller writes, Brunson put up career highs in nearly every major statistical category last season, but teams will be more focused on slowing him down in ’23/24. As Team USA’s probable starting point guard ahead of the World Cup, Brunson hasn’t shown any signs of being impacted by enhanced external expectations — if anything, he seems to thrive under increased scrutiny, which could be a boon for the Knicks, per Braziller.

Here’s more from the Atlantic:

  • The Nets‘ NBA G League affiliate in Long Island recently announced a series of coaching changes. Shawn Swords, who was an assistant last season, has been promoted to associate head coach under Mfon Udofia, while Travis Voigt, Andrew Cobian and L.D. Williams were named assistant coaches.
  • In an interview with Antonis Stroggylakis of Eurohoops.net, Sixers big man Filip Petrusev discussed signing his first NBA contract, expectations (or lack thereof) for his rookie season, playing for the Serbian national team in the World Cup, and escaping the wildfires in Greece while he was vacationing with his girlfriend.
  • Appearing on NBA Today (YouTube link), ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne says the Sixers are still in a stalemate with former MVP James Harden, with no real trade talks at the moment. Shelburne also says Joel Embiid is motivated to enter 2023/24 in tip-top shape and is excited by the upside of Tyrese Maxey, who is entering the final year of his rookie contract but isn’t expected to receive an extension. It may seem like the franchise is in turmoil from the outside given Harden’s trade request, but Shelburne hears Embiid is in regular communication with the front office. While this season will undoubtedly be vital, next summer might be even more important for Embiid’s future, according to Shelburne, who notes that the reigning MVP is waiting to see what the roster looks like in ’24/25 with so few players under contract.

Sixers Notes: Harden, Maxey, Morey, Nurse

Some people with the Sixers were surprised that James Harden picked up his 2023/24 player option in June, says Michael Scotto of HoopsHype. According to Scotto, if Harden had opted out, Philadelphia would have been open to re-signing him to another two-year deal – possibly with a team option – but such a short-term commitment wouldn’t have appealed to the former MVP.

Having decided he wanted to leave Philadelphia to join the Clippers, Harden recognized that he wouldn’t be able to get to Los Angeles on a market-value contract if he opted for free agency, so he exercised his option and began pushing for a trade.

Now, the process is somewhat out of his hands, but there continues to be dialogue between the Sixers and Clippers, per Scotto. The start of training camp will be a key inflection point to watch, since the 76ers may not want to have to deal with a disgruntled star in camp this fall.

Here’s more on the Sixers:

  • Scotto wonders if the 76ers’ stance against extending Tyrese Maxey this offseason would change if the team takes back one or two multiyear contracts in a Harden deal, since its ability to open up significant cap room in 2024 would be somewhat compromised. However, Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer, who joined Scotto on the HoopsHype podcast, is skeptical that the Sixers will reverse course and extend Maxey, noting that putting off a deal until 2024 allows the club to maintain more trade flexibility. For his part, Maxey probably has no reason to pursue an extension unless Philadelphia is offering the max, Scotto observes.
  • The Sixers can no longer blame Doc Rivers or “The Process” if they remain unable to make a deep playoff run, notes Pompey, suggesting that president of basketball operations Daryl Morey could find himself on the hot seat within the next year or two if the team can’t get past the second round of the playoffs. “When Brett Brown was the coach, it was the second round. When Elton Brand was leading the front office, it was the second round,” Pompey said. “Now, you’ve got Morey and three max players or close to it in Harden, (Joel) Embiid, and Tobias Harris, and it’s been three seasons in a row that they ended their season in the second round. I think Morey could be in trouble if they don’t get out of the second round.”
  • According to Pompey, one source he spoke to recently indicated that new head coach Nick Nurse won’t be concerned about what the Sixers’ opening night roster looks like as long as it’s fully formed by the time the playoffs begin. However, Pompey believes it would put Nurse in a tough spot if the Harden situation hasn’t been resolved one way or another by the time the season begins. “If you’re a first-year coach taking over a team, you want to know what utensils you’re going to have when you start cooking the meal, not when you’re finishing the meal,” Pompey said. “You want to know what the flour is going to be. When you start baking the cake, you want to start with the flour. You don’t want to bring the flour in at the end when you’ve got to make the best cake possible. You can’t pause the oven and then sprinkle it in there.”

Atlantic Notes: Bazley, Maxey, Herro, Tucker, Knicks

New Nets power forward Darius Bazley envisions himself as being a versatile, defense-first contributor for Brooklyn, writes Zach Braziller of The New York Post.

Following a 2022/23 season split between the Thunder and Suns, the 6’8″ big man inked a one-year, veteran’s minimum agreement with Brooklyn, citing the team’s energy and chemistry as reasons why the Nets appealed to him.

“Just watching them a little bit in the playoffs, also just throughout the course of the season, the new team that they had towards the end here, they looked like they had fun,” Bazley said. “They looked like they played hard and together. It was just something I wanted to be a part of. When it all came down to it, Brooklyn was the place to be.”

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • As chatter about Damian Lillard‘s demand to be traded to the Heat continues, league executives who spoke with Sean Deveney of Heavy.com suggested that a stronger package could be put together around Sixers shooting guard Tyrese Maxey, whom they see as a better young player than Miami shooting guard Tyler Herro. “I like Herro, I think everyone does,” a rival scout said. “But when you look at where these guys are gonna be in four or five years, you can see a lot more growth potential with Maxey. He is more of an attacker, he gets into the lane, he is a lot more efficient with his shot. And you know, in today’s game, efficiency is everything. So I mean, it’s a no-brainer in that respect.”
  • Sixers star guard James Harden continues to want out of town, while veteran power forward P.J. Tucker‘s name was recently floated as a potential piece to include in a possible trade. Kyle Neubeck of ThePhillyVoice.com wonders if it may behoove Philadelphia strategically to move off Tucker’s contract. Though the 39-year-old remains a high-level defender, his meager offensive contributions last seasons don’t necessarily portend a bright future in that regard. Neubeck notes that moving Tucker for cap relief and/or a more athletic player could help the club.
  • Although the Knicks have now signed three players to fill their three two-way contracts heading into the 2023/24 season, the team is not permitted to withdraw its two-way qualifying offer to Duane Washington Jr. without his permission, in accordance with NBA guidelines, as Fred Katz of The Athletic observes (Twitter links). If Washington were to accept his two-way QO, the Knicks would have to waive one of their two-way players, since they’re not permitted to carry four.

Morey Spells Out What He Wants In Potential Harden Deal

Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey says he’s trying to honor James Harden‘s trade request but won’t make a deal unless he can get a top-level player in return, or enough assets to acquire a difference-maker in a separate trade.

In a revealing radio interview on The Anthony Gargano Show, Morey discussed the Harden situation, as well as other roster issues. The quotes were posted by 975TheFanatic.com. Morey said he’s seeking a “running mate” for Joel Embiid in a potential Harden trade, though he’s still hopeful Harden will change his mind.

“I do have a long relationship with him, and I am attempting to honor that,” Morey said. “If we do look at a trade, it will be for one of two things. Either a player who helps us be right there like we were last year. Up 3-2 on one of the best teams in the East, the Celtics. Obviously, we didn’t get it done, but James is one of the reasons we were up 3-2.  Or we are going to do it where we get enough draft picks so we can turn those into a player who can be a running mate with Joel. If we don’t get either – a very good player or something we can turn into a very good player – then we will just not do it.”

In regard to finding another top talent to pair with Embiid, Morey expressed hope that Tyrese Maxey could develop into that type of player.

Here are some other highlights from the interview:

  • Morey confirmed that the disconnect between Harden and the front office is due to the guard’s contract demands. Harden took a pay cut and signed a two-year deal last summer. He’s seeking a long-term deal, which Philly is reluctant to give him. “He is wishing for a different situation contractually,” Morey said. “That has been the main desire for looking for a new situation. At this point, if we can do something that is winwin, we will look at it. But if we can’t, then we won’t.” Harden picked up his option for next season prior to free agency.
  • Morey realizes that fans are weary of the team’s playoff flameouts and says he feels their pain. “Losing the way we did, the fact that this has happened over and over. I do nothing else but try to figure out how to get this team over the hump.”
  • Morey tried to calm down fans who are concerned about Embiid’s recent comments about wanting to win a championship “whether it’s in Philly or anywhere else.” He had some fun with that yesterday, that was a very Joel day yesterday. I spoke to him at length, he is very excited,” Morey said. “Coach (Nick) Nurse is planning to do some innovative things for training camp that Joel is excited about. ... He wants to win in Philly. That is the only place he wants to win. He was referencing the fact it is not totally in his control.”
  • With Harden and Tobias Harris on expiring contracts, the Sixers could be in the rare position of a contending team with plenty of cap space next summer. Morey plans to protect that cap space as much as possible. He’s hopeful of acquiring another star in that fashion: “What we are attempting to do is not just have the best team this season, but also have the ability to be a very unique team with the most cap room for a team that is as good as us. The new CBA next year will put massive constraints downwards on salaries in the league. So us being the only team with a top player, where another player can join, puts us in a very unique situation.” 
  • That cap situation for 2024 is why the Sixers aren’t planning to extend Maxey this offseason, Mike Vurkonov of The Athletic tweets. “Because of the quirk of the CBA we will be able to add a significant player next year before we extend Maxey and he’ll be a cornerstone, once we do that, with the franchise for a very long time,” Morey said.